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Pro Football | BALTIMORE 16, TENNESSEE 10

Titans Short by a Yard, Again

November 13, 2001|Associated Press

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans have been involved in some wacky finishes in their short history. This was as wild as any.

The Titans lost, 16-10, Monday night to Baltimore after they had the winning touchdown called back when the play was dead because Baltimore was offside.

Then Steve McNair failed to get the yard he needed for the winning touchdown and the Ravens danced off the field.

"We finally had a Monday night game worth staying up for," Raven Coach Brian Billick said. "Unbelievable. Unbelievable sequence of events."

The sequence was right up there with the two events that define the Titans--the "Music City Miracle" two years ago and the Super Bowl that same season.

In the first, Kevin Dyson took a lateral on the kickoff on the final play of a playoff game with Buffalo and returned it 75 yards for the winning touchdown. In the Super Bowl, Dyson came up a yard short of the tying touchdown against St. Louis on the final play.

Dyson was involved in this one, too, catching a five-yard pass from McNair at the one as the clock ticked down. The Ravens quickly lined up, and with players all over the field McNair surged into the end zone for what seemed to be the winning score.

But the officials huddled and referee Bernie Kukar finally announced that because Peter Boulware was offside when he touched a Tennessee player, the play was dead. The ball was moved one foot from the end zone but McNair's sneak was stuffed when Baltimore sent all 11 defenders at the goal line.

"I guess if you're in this game long enough, you think at times that you've seen it all, then you experience this," Titan Coach Jeff Fisher said.

"This will be a defining moment for our football team. To have this game come down to inches and seconds and hand it to someone else. We do not like the interpretation of the call. But by rule it is correct."

It's also extremely damaging to the Titans.

Baltimore (6-3) moved within a half-game of Pittsburgh in the AFC Central, but Tennessee (3-5) dropped into a tie for last in the six-team division with Jacksonville.

"It took me six months to get over the Super Bowl. I have six hours to get over this," Fisher said.

"It's just a nauseous feeling," Tennessee's Frank Wycheck said. "First you're really mad and the next it's just sickening. We wanted it so bad and the guys battled so hard and laid it all out on the field. It's just frustrating."

The game was scoreless for a half as two defensive powers struggled to gain yards.

With the Ravens leading, 16-10, the Titan offense began to move. A 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on Michael McCrary put the ball at the 20. The Titans eventually got to the six, where McNair threw two incomplete passes into the end zone before finding Dyson at the one.

Then came the officials.

"They never spotted the ball," Billick said of the officials. "Their center took the ball and spotted it. The play never should have gone off in the first place."

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